I walked this life – lonely –

I walked this life – lonely –
Aware of shame – only –
Chiding Your apathy – to me –
I saw myself – painfully – alone.

In Your light I see – suddenly –
Always You are – with me –
Walking me home – lonely –
Never having left me – painfully – alone.


Psalm 35:4-9 (NIV): Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

image credit: yoksei @ unsplash

Continue reading “I walked this life – lonely –”

I had two grannies

I had two grannies
(Not everyone does, you know).
One tall and spindly like a soothsayer’s runes
And another short and dwarfish like a hoarder of rubies.

If they could have peeled the flesh off me
They would have when I was four
And grafted their skin on me with their
Surgery knives of fleshy steel called tongues.

I remember them: their eyes, and now I wish
— I wish I didn’t.
Except in those messy fairy tales where
Witches get pushed into ovens
And children find their own way home.

But they don’t.


Just as an addendum: I never saw my grandmothers again after the age of six when we moved and they died at a much later date. My dim memories of them are few.

For dVerse's "Grandmothers ..."

A Walk With You

When I walk down the street with you
it seems an avenue for the parvenu
who glitter and mime like bees round a cru
flush with cash, flush with dash, flush with boppity-boo.

I lean in, you lean out, you lean in, I lean out,
a flamenco we do, even a samba no doubt
while the white picket fences they shimmer and shout
“Oh look who! Oh look who!” like old aunties with gout.

And I’m so gorgeous and you’re larger than life
and if you’re honest, you’ll make me your wife;
but this world is so public and with catastrophes rife
its cerulean sky could change into a razor-sharp knife.

Would you stay with me, forever and a day
when the zinnias of summer turn a wintry gray?
When we walk beneath cottonwoods, will you turn and say,
“I’m glad you and I chose to go another way”?
Photo by Adam Bird

Continue reading “A Walk With You”

For and By: Christina on New Year’s Eve

“It was a stark surprise of loss,”
she wrote, and then she stopped,
her hand stilled on the backlit keys
her eyes glued to the screen

where suddenly the lines misted,
metamorphosed in rain,
the world becoming watery,
a deluge full of pain.

She wiped her cheeks, she rose, she paced,
she spun about the room,
though memories of a dream-like shore
outran her pleas for peace.

Into her words she’d poured her heart,
into the poems she wrote
but from them she no longer found
the comfort that she sought.

None came but one, a fiery flare
that lit the distant sky
as if it came in search of her,
a foundling lost to claim.

“What joy is this, what Guest on high
has chosen this black night,
to show His love, to set alight
my dark and stormy heart?”

She cried, and in her joy she found
a new theme to set down
by psalm-borne winds she softly sang
of things divine, unseen.

Christina Rossetti, painting by John Brett, 1857 (Oil on canvas
Private Collection)

Old and New Year Ditties by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

1.

New Year met me somewhat sad:
Old Year leaves me tired,
Stripped of favourite things I had,
Baulked of much desired:
Yet farther on my road today
God willing, farther on my way.

New Year coming on apace
What have you to give me?
Bring you scathe, or bring you grace,
Face me with an honest face;
You shall not deceive me:
Be it good or ill, be it what you will,
It needs shall help me on my road,
My rugged way to heaven, please God.

2.

Watch with me, men, women, and children dear,
You whom I love, for whom I hope and fear,
Watch with me this last vigil of the year.
Some hug their business, some their pleasure scheme;
Some seize the vacant hour to sleep or dream;
Heart locked in heart some kneel and watch apart.

Watch with me, blessed spirits, who delight
All thro’ the holy night to walk in white,
Or take your ease after the long-drawn fight.
I know not if they watch with me: I know
They count this eve of resurrection slow,
And cry, “How long?” with urgent utterance strong.

Watch with me, Jesus, in my loneliness:
Tho’ others say me nay, yet say Thou yes;
Tho’ others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.
Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night;
Tonight of pain, tomorrow of delight:
I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.

3.

Passing away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty and youth sapped day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.
Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play;
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day
Lo the bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
Watch thou and pray.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
Winter passeth after the long delay:
New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven’s May.
Tho’ I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray.
Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
Then I answered: Yea.

This poem was originally published in Goblin Market and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1862) and appears in The Complete Poems by Christina Rossetti (Penguin, 2001). It is in the public domain.

I wrote the top poem in honor of Christina Rossetti whose poetry stirs readers and poets alike with their psalm-like appeal, as “Old and New Year Ditties,” on the cusp of a new year. Join us at Denise’s Six Sentence Story (using prompt word “surprise”). To my blog visitors, have a Happy New Year, one full of love and peace.

Snowballs in the Snow

Love:

let me be
your candy
sweet fantasy

of reindeer snow
of red-nosed glow
from snowball throw

aimed happy crazy
on mouth soft and saucy
and your eyes that melt me

gleam a Southern summertime
of delicious crime
as time spins on a dime.


A recipe for Peanut Butter Snowballs (pictured above) is here. Of course the earliest reference to peanut butter can be traced back to the Aztecs who would not have been acquainted with snow. Written for dVerse’s Quadrille (44 words, “candy”).

From Black Ship to Ferry and Never Home Again

[A Short Story]

I unravel from my winding sheet for that is what it is, this flesh which harbors my soul in the same way my soul embraced the flesh in its wanderings like Ulysses aboard his black ships.

As I do, I spy my body at a slowly retreating distance, see its supine figure like a sculpture by Rodin, no, strike that, more like a painting by Caravaggio, the one of Paul struck down on his way to Damascus, every strained muscle in his body and lineament of his face expressing brute confrontation with Truth.

Yes, I capitalized it, or Him, Truth, a living Being, the source and embodiment of the absolute by virtue of His aseity and omnipotence, against whom I thought I could compete with my own truth, small case, t-r-u-t-h, to my own demise when I took up arms against any who would tell me not to heed the siren’s call, or the call of that master rhetorician Ulysses, alive in every age, in every town, in every social circle, school, temple or townhall, the sly, polished poet, a borrower or thief with pockets full of gold who says, “Let’s see what’s out there, so much to see, so much to experience, and oh, the things we’ll learn as we range unanchored to any known shore, pushing that thin envelope of body and spirit to the limit!”

He offered what we all yearn for, knowledge of the world, a wisdom that ordinary people (how we despise them!) in their ordinary little lives could never hope to find, when there’s a world of pure epicurean adventure led by your captain, my captain, let’s call him Ulysses.

I was twenty-nine, hardly naïve, yet naïve as a voter with a politician spinning promises, and so I left my home and went with him, my Ulysses, as ready as he with wit to parley at every Areopagus, eager to hear or spin every newfangled tale ever told, see every exotic sight to behold, by plane, by train, oh, the places to go, to experience every esoteric fad and sensation, and everywhere the dawn rose to the rooster’s call of Carpe diem and the night fell on the cries to transgress, transgress, every boundary, every limit, until my soul gave way from its moorings at the realization that I had gained nothing but lost everything.

Soon I’ll leave for Charon’s Ferry and I wish now – too late — for just one more voyage: a voyage I’ll never know.


Denise's Six Sentence Story Word Prompt is "range" so naturally my thoughts flew to that free-ranging (anti-)hero Ulysses and his place in Canto 26 of Dante's Inferno, Commedia. 

Canto 26 is one of my favorite cantos in the Inferno, so much being said here by Dante, revealing how much he too is tempted by the same passion as Ulysses whose supple philosophical genius and rhetorical skills are used to deceive the Trojans and ultimately lead to the doom of his own men as he leaves Ithaca, his home. They sail beyond the gates of Hercules where he and his men spy Mount Purgatory before “a whirlwind rose and hammered” at their ships sending them plunging beneath the ocean waves.

Continue reading “From Black Ship to Ferry and Never Home Again”

An Experiment in Poetry (A Cut-up)

What can be made of a poem which solely uses the last lines of other poems? Today’s dVerse challenge prompts us to construct just such a poem (or hodge podge or call it what you will) and I was curious what would follow. So I used the last lines of the first twelve poems in Margaret Atwood’s latest book of poetry, Dearly, (without alteration, only enjambment and lower-case) and this is what I got. Make of it what you will, but it goes to show that there is a resonance in words that builds on the generosity of a poem’s ambiguity and particularly the reader’s generosity as well. And such a cut-up technique plays on that to more or less affect.

Dear Reader, you decide.


An Experiment in Poetry (with apologies to Margaret Atwood)

hearts
hurt

not quite
cursed if she smiles or cries

the candle guttering down
I’ll give dry light

turn the key. Bar the window
let there be plot

why can’t I let her go?
isn’t it pretty, back there?

as Heaven always is,
if you read the texts closely

remember me
sing: On

This Long November Day

This long November day
unravels, filaments of self
unthreaded spin in disarray
seek a coalescing glance
from Thee, my soul’s desire.

This long November night
defeats, malingers yesterdays
that moon in shallow doorways
guilt-shadowed, hammering refrains
that only Thy voice can silence.

Hasten to send Thou, Oh Lord, Thy Word,
Thy Light by day, by night, my sight
unblind, my thought overspread, unroll
yard by yard Thy seeded spring
in frozen heart by Thy Spirit’s warmth.

And then shall November night become
as day, November day as night unfurled
in Thy blanketing love, and like a traveler
who spies a bridge o’er torrents harsh, I’ll race
to cross encircling time, and so abide in Thee.

Under Dust

Found on a flyleaf: “Awarded to Fanny for an Essay on ‘What I saw during my trip to the orphanage’. Sept 19111

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893), “November Moonlight”

The art book when I find it
is pristine with dust, a gray snowfall,
only the flurries fall upward in the sunlight

defying gravity, defying the orderly Milky Way
of my existence, its fixed planetary motions
with phantoms of metaverses like motes

in my eyes: Marcel² says, “leave it under the bed”:
but the plank is in his eye: this dust is
important as marble, a tombstone in the tundra

of which I am custodian, and I hate the gloved hand
that gave it and know the open hand that received it
and I would not disturb the fixed leaves

that shelter the child who murmurs “dada”
then “rosebud”
then dies.

Man Ray, Dust Breeding (Dust over work by Marcel Duchamp), ca. 1920

1Inscription (with edit) from The Book of Inscriptions Project

2French artist/writer Marcel Duchamp let dust collect in a spot under his bed (he called it “growing dust”), instructing his maid not to clean it.

Continue reading “Under Dust”

Last Testimony

Rainbow feather-bearers,
winged busy trilling wonders
rest on stout Sequoia shoulders

arcing out in providential shelter
with canopy of ancient splendor
slain when commerce cuts asunder

felled history’s immanence
felled unwritten covenants
felled ringed testaments

fell sight of heaven
fell curse east of Eden.

Fallen Giant Sequoia Redwood tree Loggers with felled Redwood circa 1905
A fallen giant Redwood tree with 14 loggers around a large Redwood tree
Humboldt County, Lumber industry, circa 1905
Photographer: Jesse A. Meiser (1870-1939) Monterey County Historical Society

For Sherry's "Tongues of Falling Trees" earthweal prompt
and De's dVerse Quadrille (44 words, "wing")

A Cynic’s Prayer

Image credit; Pavel Danilyuk@ Pexels

I don’t believe in you, don’t freak out,
god(s), or demi-gods, or goddess,
lol, you’re just words to me, like
psy
cho
lo
gy, (read it, it’s in a book)
of wanting things I can’t have,
help when I need it
a step up, a step down
a shout out, a call down,
but I’m too smart for you
I’ve
got
all
I
need
in
me, don’t fool yourself
that I’m praying when I’m posing
and rit-
ual-
izing,

Continue reading “A Cynic’s Prayer”

Entering the Poetry Portal

It’s about the size of a hand cupping a snow-
flake, the first of the season, this heart
beating back the fires around her

the frozen lake, the sweep of wind rising
to quell the fear, the voices drowning
then driving, jealously guarding

the ground snow pure in its pristine skyfall
a secret bower where the moon shone
and the woods sang to her and she knew

one day she would sing back to the Voice
that sang delight from the dark unknown
lovely to the child cupping a handful of snow


Continue reading “Entering the Poetry Portal”

The Ballad of the Bird and Judge Holden

image ©dorahak

The eve of Hallowe’en a bird was freed:
it wasn’t meant to be;
it had been tied to the end of a string
designed by devilry.
But up it flew o’er a bubbling brew
into the boughs of a tree.

“Where goes that bird?” Judge Holden cried
cursing all wizardry;
for its escape was not foreseen by those
of his company.
“It’s singing loud o’er field and town” said
a blackhearted mercenary.

“Then all our lies will be undone, and all
our schemes they’ll see!”
“Not all, Judge Holden,” a satyr croaked, “the bird
silenced will be,
when stirring this cauldron of discontent, to you
they’ll bow their knee.”

The bird had heard the words they said as it
flew o’erhead happily;
this people’s fate lay not in mortal hands but in
truth that would set them free.
So it louder sang, and it never feared Judge Holden
and his mercenaries.


Continue reading “The Ballad of the Bird and Judge Holden”

In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)

So if you were to ask me what’s on my mind today as I write, I’d have to say Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s fifth novel. I’ve read two other of his novels, The Road and Child of God, and just this past Tuesday after a sixteen-year hiatus, his newest novel, The Passenger was released (to be read). He has a lot to say against the backdrop of the Bible, human history, Western literature, and it’s all about the human heart, the worst of it, the meager remnants of conscience in preserving “civilization,” the struggle against Evil. It’s no mystery why Blood Meridian has been compared to Melville’s Moby Dick. There’s no call to be smug about being just human. And the shame only comes when we ignore the divine, the image of God in each of us.

you say, everything’s not black and white,
drawing white shades over black night
in a ghost town where folks walk on tight-
ropes past the presidio’s edge, swallowing fright.

you say, there are safety nets, nobody gets hurt
not even ones on the highest wires lose their shirt
c’mon, a little dunk in a cesspool as you hit the dirt,
an umbrella in case of rain, keep your poise, insert

[sounds off screen, fade to …]

life: blood red.


Continue reading “In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)”

Autumn Revelry

images © dorahak

So I took a trip down Jack O’Lantern Lane
Where skeletons and ghosts were raising Cain
The crows they cawed
The mockingbirds squawked
And the treetops flared like a fire engine.

So I ran back home to ink an angry complaint
Against shuffling monsters that make one faint
But I tripped over boxes
Left by masquerade foxes
And I cursed like the dickens cuz a saint I ain’t.

So then I opened my eyes, took in the wide blue skies
And I laughed at the beauty that around me lies
The anthem of the trees
As they sang in the breeze
And I thanked the Lord with my heartfelt sighs.

As if by magic my anger disappeared and the doorbell rang
And I rose from my chair with a clatter and a bang
See, I had my nutty nurse costume on
A green glowing needle and a wig of blonde
I was going trick or treatin’ with my neighborhood gang.


Continue reading “Autumn Revelry”

My Song

Genre: Poetry; Word Count: 100

poem and audio reading of “Why Am I?” ℗©2022 Dora A.K

Threads torn from a silk tapestry
a nightingale on branch of tree

Belong in other songs and rhymes
Of emperors with preternatural pastimes.

I pick my threads from a homespun quilt
Of gospel truth that frees from guilt.

It tells of One who died and rose
To save from sins and lies expose.

It warns that wealth hoarded in greed
Should be shared with those in need.

Here I sit under branch and sky
Little to my name, just this tune to ply.

At the end of my days, I’ve nothing to grieve:
it’s better to give than to receive.


Acts 20:35 NIV
[Paul said,] “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak,
remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Continue reading “My Song”

This Woman

Glow of Hope,” Sawlaram Haldankar (1946), watercolor

She slow walks the hope
that others tango away,
with that fermented sway
she blends like warm cashmere,
sari fragrant in folds full
to embrace high-strung husband
or the frightened chit at full-speed
running into a silken bungalow,
avatar of lighthouse flashing
“no amount of grave concern
not handled here,” and behold,
juggernauts vanish beneath her feet
of frangipani, ethereal gold.


Continue reading “This Woman”

Come Hell or High Water (A Very Short Story)

Written for Sadje’s WDYS #157 photo prompt and Sammi’s Day 5 prompt of 13 Days of Samhain. Thanks to both for their inspiration to write this short story. Do check out Sammi Cox’s amusing serial mystery featuring Damon, the caretaker of a graveyard full of undead inhabitants. Click here for part 1. You won’t be disappointed.

She grew up looking at the world sideways, knowing if she saw it head-on she’d only see the mask, not the face outlined behind it. Better the warm, blemished skin than the plastic over it.

Never took anyone too seriously, neither. Not worth the trouble and trouble was all that ever brought. Better to know they’d break their word than be surprised when they did.

People wondered why she was always so placid. Why? Because she was never disappointed. And however bad folks were, they could be worse. However good they were today, it really didn’t pay to think they’d be the same tomorrow.

When the Imp came along, she adjusted. She was stuck with it. One day she opened her eyes and there it sat, twisting every nerve and joint in her body till it brought tears to her eyes.

She asked God about it. She said she felt like Job. And then she ended up covering her mouth like Job did when she realized there were things she didn’t need to know as long as God did.

The Imp turned the screws on her off and on. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” it would say, as her footsteps got slower and slower. Then she’d get better. Then she’d get worse.

But she stopped looking at people sideways. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” they’d tease, and bring her a pumpkin-face latte when she couldn’t get up in the morning.

The Imp kept up its mischief. They kept up their love. She kept thanking God for setting her straight, come hell or high water.


1 Corinthians 13:3-7, 12-13 (NIV)
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. …
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Image credit: Valeriia @ Pexels